Okay, so it won’t be too long-winded. Just a few thoughts, comments, and recollections about my love of records. You see, even as a kid I loved collecting things. Not animal carcasses, or mason jars full of dead butterflies. Nothing like that. But tangible things. Things I could take care of and show off. I think it started as early as 4 or 5 years old. Hot Wheels. I loved my Hot Wheels. I had all kinds. Everything from a 65′ Jaguar to a blue Chevy Van with “The Thing” from The Fantastic Four on the side of it. I had quite a few, actually. They were neatly kept in one of those handy carrying cases(it was a blue vinyl one, not the even niftier tire-shaped ones other kids had). But then for my 7th birthday I received a Luke Skywalker action figure(his Cloud City outfit…you know, what he wore when he fought Darth Vader at the end…). This began my love affair with Star Wars. I mean, I’d seen Star Wars, but up until that point the only toy I had was a glow-in-the-dark light saber. This action figure woke up that over-active imagination in me that had been lying dormant waiting for the right moment to wake up. Enter Kenner. That Christmas I’d gotten several Star Wars toys(Millenium Falcon, X-Wing Fighter, Snow Speeder, and several more action figures). I kept very good care of these toys, keeping the boxes and storing them in a temperature-controlled vault hidden in a secret room in the basement guarded by two falcons named Lazarus and Samhain. Okay, that was made up. They were actually two crows named Frank and Hank. Point is, I loved those toys. And not only did I learn to sharpen and hone that crazy imagination of mine, but I also learned the value of taking care of the things that bring you much happiness in life. Star Wars begat GI Joe, which begat Transformers, which begat…well, you get the point.
But in 1984 I discovered the joy of music collecting. My older brother started collecting records, then cassettes. He’d dub cassettes for me, but that wasn’t enough. I needed my own. I wanted the whole package. I wanted the artwork, I wanted the song titles, I wanted the lyric sheets. So I saved my allowance and bought my very first cassette, Ratt’s Out of the Cellar. Yeah, it wasn’t The Beatles Rubber Soul, or The Kinks’ Face To Face. Sorry, I was an 80s kid. After that purchase there was no going back. I began buying up as many cassettes as I could. Then in 1991 I started to buy CDs. That turned into an obsession. CD storage cases were bought and bought. Then finally in 1995 I bought a CD tower. This was a Sauder CD tower. You know, that furniture made of the finest, densest fake wood money can buy. It was the weight of a small car, but it held all of my CDs with much room to grow.
This CD obsession lasted until 2008 when I took the plunge and bought a turntable and a handful of jazz records. I haven’t looked back. Not long ago I was thinking, as I spent a Sunday morning staining the first of two record cabinets I built “You know, it’s almost like when I was a kid and that sense of pride I had for my toys. The care I put into those things. These records…..man, this stain stinks.” Then, two Sundays later as I sat on the living room floor and slipped all of my records into plastic sleeves I bought at the local record store so to keep them preserved and in pristine shape I thought to myself “Man, as anal-retentive as this obviously is I wouldn’t have it any other way. Keeping these records in perfect shape is something that not only I should do, but it’s something that I….man, my foot’s asleep. I can’t sit like this anymore.”
This record collecting is something that brings a lot of happiness in my life. It’s not only the music, it’s the ritual. It’s the process. It’s also the hunt. It’s looking for that long out-of-print gem and finding it. Stuff someone else might discard and think is worthless, I’d find priceless. It doesn’t seem like just some silly whim to my family anymore. Everyone knows the silence after a side is ending and all are prepared to get to the turntable and flip to side 2 before the needle hits the center. Spinning records is a part of our evening ‘thing’. Records aren’t cheap, I’ll give you that. But neither is season tickets for college football. Or video games. Or tennis shoes. Or tattoos. Or cigarettes. Or meth. Damn, cough syrup isn’t cheap, and there’s a ton of cough syrup involved in making that junk. So I guess what I’m saying is there’s just as many other things I could be spending my money on that no one else in my family could be getting something from but me. I’m also instilling a love of music in my kids. My parents did it for me. A stack of vinyl in the living room, a Pioneer turntable always lit up on Friday and Saturday night with The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and The Doors playing at maximum volume.
It had its affect on me, and I thank mom and dad for that.